Contra Costa Adds At-a-Glance Health Inspection Signs for Restaurants, Grocers
Tuesday, March 15
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Businesses that sell food in Contra Costa County will soon post color-coded signs to inform the public about any major health code violations found during their most recent inspections, Contra Costa Environmental Health announced today.
The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the change at its March 15 meeting, and the county will begin phasing in the placards on April 15.
“This is an important step to help the public make informed decisions when dining or shopping in our county,” Board Chair Candace Andersen said. “Placards make it easy for anyone to know a business’s food safety record, just by looking in the window.”
Placards show if a county inspector found serious health violations during the last regular inspection, such as unclean or improperly sanitized kitchen equipment, food measured at unsafe temperatures, or workers handling food while ill or with unwashed hands.
The green, yellow and red placarding program is similar to those already in use in Sacramento and several other Bay Area counties.
“Our primary goal is to reduce foodborne illness. Other cities and counties that use placarding programs have seen a decline,” Environmental Health Director Dr. Marilyn Underwood said. “Making inspection results highly visible appears to have an impact on making businesses that sell food operate more safely.”
Green means zero or one major violation, yellow means two or more. Red placards are only used if a business is shut down because of an imminent health hazard, such as a vermin infestation or no hot water.
Businesses with retail food permits have always been required to immediately correct health violations while the inspector is on site or close.
Environmental Health, a division of Contra Costa Health Services, regulates about 4,000 retail food permit holders. Most will participate in the placarding program, including restaurants and grocery stores.
Restaurants are inspected two to three times per year. Permit holders will receive their placards at their next inspections after April 15. Some, such as supermarkets with delis and bakeries, will have multiple placards depending on the section of the business.
Environmental Health offers training for those that repeatedly struggle to obtain green placards.
A searchable database of health inspection results for Contra Costa and several neighboring counties is available at cchealth.org/eh or through the county’s free Food Inspector App, downloadable for iOS or Android through Apple’s iTunes Store or Google’s Play Store.
Visit this page for links to the app: cchealth.org/eh/retail-food/smartphone-app.php
For more information about Contra Costa’s placarding program, visit cchealth.org/placard.
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- Karl Fischer, 925-313-6832